CRTC Bares Teeth, Fines Telemarketer $500,000

by Jordan Richardson on December 20, 2010

The CRTC’s limp handling of the national do not call registry has been well-documented, so industry watchers were rightly stunned when the regulator lowered the proverbial boom on Xentel DM Inc. and fined the telemarketing firm a colossal $500,000.

Xentel DM Inc. bills itself as a company that works on behalf of community organizations. After an investigation, the CRTC bared its fangs and issued the fine on the basis of Xentel’s “unauthorized telemarketing practices.” Apparently the company had called customers who had registered on the national do not call registry. Those calls promoted events on behalf of Xentel and on behalf of companies that were not registered charities, thus furtively skirting the exception for registered charities included in the do not call list’s apparatus.

The do not call registry apparently contains some 8.7 million numbers. It was launched in 2008 and promised fines of up to $15,000 to companies violating the rules, but a summer investigation revealed that the registry was far from effective. Despite fielding over 300,000 complaints, the CRTC had only issued fines of around $75,000 to 22 companies.

Consider this making up for lost time.

Perhaps it was the idea that a fine of this magnitude was needed to make an impact or perhaps the CRTC was feeling a little edgy around the holidays, but Friday’s fine to Xentel is a record penalty under the legislation.

“The rules are quite clear as to what types of calls are exempt from the national do-not-call list,” Andrea Rosen, the CRTC’s chief telecommunications enforcement officer, said in a statement. “We appreciate Xentel’s commitment to change its telemarketing practices in order to address our concerns. Education is an important part of any compliance program, and we are working with the industry to make certain that telemarketers understand their responsibilities.”

Xentel doesn’t appear to be fighting the fine and is instead issuing a series of corrective notices that will presumably be published in newspapers. They are also required to enact a “compliance program” to ensure that they play by the rules.

With this hefty fine, the CRTC is (finally) stating its intentions and (perhaps) means to (possibly) enforce the do not call registry with (somewhat) more vigour. They (may) mean business (if that’s okay with you).

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